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Monthly Archives: December 2016

7 Creative Businesses That Will Inspire You

Being an art professional certainly comes with its stigmas — just ask the people who believe in the “starving artist” cliché.

Though friends and family may try to talk professional artists out of their passions (and professions), creative businesses can thrive. Startups like these keep art alive in people’s homes, phones and everyday lives. These seven art-focused businesses are putting a unique spin on their industry, and might even encourage you to better appreciate art.

Want to bring art into your home or office without hanging the pieces on the walls? Artkick allows you to display high-quality art and photography on your TV or computer monitor, with free access to photos from museums, NASA, the Library of Congress, Photos.com and Hubble. You can even import your own photos from Facebook, Instagram, Dropbox, Flickr and more. You control what photos are displayed via the Artkick mobile app on your smartphone or tablet. Think of it as art projected like you would project video with Roku and Google Chromecast devices.

Raaja Nemani and Aaron Firestein met and became friends while traveling through Argentina. Firestein drew a design on a pair of plain canvas sneakers for Nemani, who soon found his shoes were a big conversation starter throughout his travels. This inspired the pair to start Bucketfeet, a company that sells canvas sneakers in a variety of styles that feature original art by more than 40,000 creators from 120 countries around the world. These artists cover every medium, from graphic design and graffiti to photography and painting, and anyone can submit their artwork for consideration by the Bucketfeet committee.

Based in New York, ImageThink makes art functional in the office and the classroom. The ImageThink graphic-recording team creates illustrations based on keynote speeches, presentations, strategy sessions and more to help audiences visualize and better remember the information they see. ImageThink team members create these illustrations live during the meeting or event to go along with the presentation. The company also offers its services for creating animated videos and infographics.

Have you ever posted a photo on Instagram that’s so beautiful it could be a painting? With Instapainting, you can transform that digitally captured sunset or portrait into a real-life work of art. You can order either a mixed-media painting (the artist will print your image onto a cotton canvas and then hand-paint over at least 90 percent of the image with oil paints) or a 100 percent hand-painted painting (the artist will start from a blank canvas and paint the entire picture by hand with oil paints) based on your photo. Your choice depends on your price range and the look you want to achieve. When you order a painting and it’s in the process of being created, you can view all of the progress and changes made and talk directly with the artist, and you’ll have a finished product delivered to you from Instapainting within about three weeks.

With JuicyCanvas, anyone can customize art, turning it into canvas prints, shirts, phone cases, tote bags, throw pillows and greeting cards. Juicy Canvas allows customers to select a medium and an original design, and then “remix” the piece into a custom product by altering colors, rotating and cropping the image, and adding text. Artists can submit their work to be used on the site, and customers can easily search through the available designs by style and country of origin.

Ever wish you could have the works of your favorite artists at your fingertips?Meural offers that accessibility with a digital library of precious works of art, displayable in a “digital canvas” frame. Meural renders each image as lifelike and textured as a real painting, down to the last brushstroke, the site says. The canvas comes in a wooden frame. With a range of art collections from the Romantics to the Renaissance to Contemporary art and classic photography, there are more than 20,000 pieces (and the option to upload your own images) to bring a little culture to your home, office or art space. The website says it’s easy to upload, curate and schedule images to be displayed in your frame.

Are you fickle about your home or office décor? TurningArt is an art-rental subscription service that allows you to select new art to feature in your home or office as often as you like, for a monthly fee. As a subscriber, you can search through thousands of pieces to find what you want, and the pieces are delivered to you at no extra cost. Your first order will come in a frame, and when you’re ready for a new masterpiece, all you have to do is slide the old artwork out of the frame (to be sent back to TurningArt) and put the new order in. If you fall in love with a piece, you can purchase it through TurningArt as well.

6 Businesses to Help Kick Off the New School Year

As August comes to a close, students, parents and teachers are preparing for back-to-school season. The new academic year means buying school supplies, planning school lunches and considering options like tutoring services to help make the school year go as smoothly as possible.

Heading back to school can be stressful, but these entrepreneurs aim to make it easier. Here are six businesses to check out before school starts.

Decorating lockers is a surefire way to make going back to school a little more fun for kids and teens. LockerLookz sells decorations made specifically to fit in and spruce up school lockers. Plus, the company has an online locker design tool, so students can see how their chosen decorations will look together and even purchase the entire design all together once they’re happy with the outcome. The decorations are easy to install and won’t damage lockers (so schools can rest easy). Decorations include wallpaper, photo frames, dry-erase boards, and even rugs and mini-chandelier lighting.

Most stores sell the same plain notebooks and folders. If you want to make things a little more personal, check out Frecklebox, an online store that lets you customize your school supplies. Frecklebox sells everything from binders, bookmarks and journals to lunch boxes, stickers and sketchbooks, all of which can be personalized with students’ names and favorite prints and patterns. The store is also a great place to find gifts for kids, as you can shop by occasion, theme and age.

Step away from the everyday classroom accessories and spice up your desk with accessories from Poppin. Their selection of colorful and whimsical supplies range from notebooks, desk organizers, planners and even filing cabinets. The simple designs, bright colors and fun patterns will make planning for the school year more exciting for your little one as they’re sure to dazzle any classroom with these accessories. Poppin features a “most popular” selection, so you can keep up with the trends and be sure to have what kids want the most before they return to school.

Sometimes all it takes is a little help on a particular project or lesson for struggling students to make the grade. Chegg Tutors, formerly known as InstaEdu, is a great alternative to the typical tutoring service. The online-based tutoring service employs current students and graduates from top colleges around the country to help junior-high, high-school and college students with their assignments. Students can either sign up for traditional scheduled tutoring sessions or find tutors on-demand when they need immediate help with a particular assignment or problem. Tutors and students connect via a virtual lab that includes chat and video features as well as a shared virtual whiteboard and the option to upload documents.

If you’re a parent struggling to pack a healthy lunch that your kids will love, Revolution Foods is the company you need. Revolution Foods creates healthy on-the-go lunch boxes (known as “Lunch Bundles”) — think Lunchables, but without all of the artificial ingredients and preservatives — and nutritious snacks called “Granola Bundles” that are created specifically to help kids get more protein. The brand’s Lunch Bundles come in five different flavors: turkey and cheddar, ham and cheddar, cheese pizza, popcorn chicken, and hummus and pita chips. Along with these retail products, Revolution Foods also offers programs that provide healthy, freshly prepared meals to schools throughout the United States.

Not all schools can provide teachers with the supplies they really need to make sure their students get the best education possible. AdoptAClassroom.org, a national nonprofit organization, aims to help teachers get the classroom supplies they can’t otherwise afford. Teachers can register their classrooms with AdoptAClassroom.org, where they’re provided with outreach materials to promote their donation page. Donors can also search for classrooms to adopt by teacher, school name, school type and poverty level. All donated funds go directly to teachers, and donors are given personal feedback from the teachers themselves to let them know exactly what their donations were used for and the impact it had on their class.

7 Online Business Ideas

When you dream of opening your own business, you might envision four white walls and a mess of boxes to unpack in a commercial space. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. With today’s technology, you can start and run a business online, often with little to no cost.

By focusing on your strengths, you’ll be able to build a client roster and get your online-based business started. Here are 15 great ideas you can run with.

Do you know the ins and outs of search engines and have skills in platforms like Google Analytics? The owners of a lot of smaller companies don’t realize how much of an impact search engine optimization (SEO) can have on their business. Educate those business owners on the power of SEO to help transform their websites into a more SEO-friendly property. Use your skills to show business owners how to read and use their analytics data the right way, and how to properly use keywords and structure content to get more traffic.

If you possess a great deal of business experience and knowledge, why not create a business that helps aspiring entrepreneurs find success? You can use your skills to help new business owners get off to a good start and help experienced entrepreneurs keep up with demand. To show off your knowledge and skills and bring in clients, you can also write articles about business on platforms like LinkedIn.

There’s an audience for everything, whether it’s making dollhouse furniture or creating organic dog food. With a specialty e-commerce store, you can reach those customers who are seeking your specific products. All you need is a web-hosting service with an integrated shopping cart feature or with e-commerce software, and your business will be operational in no time. You can even work with vendors to ship products to customers on your behalf, which means you don’t need to own a lot of inventory.

Larger companies can hire an agency or full-time staff member to run their Facebook and Twitter accounts, but small businesses often have to handle their own social media marketing. With so many responsibilities, business owners are often too busy, overwhelmed or undereducated about the importance of social media to spend time developing and implementing a great social media strategy. As a consultant, you can help them determine the best tactics, posting schedules and content for their target audience. As their follower count grows, so will your business.

There’s nothing more off-putting than a poorly designed website, and often, it kills credibility. If you know HTML and have a good eye for design, you can launch a service to create attractive, easy-to-use websites for small businesses. Put your skills to good use for business owners who want to take their online presence to the next level. Build a comprehensive portfolio, and then create your own website to show it off and attract a steady stream of clients.

It’s a tough truth to swallow, but a standout resume and cover letter can make all the difference when you’re applying for a job. While listing career accomplishments might seem like an easy task, the fine art of “humble bragging” eludes some of us. Find work by helping others to get hired with the aid of stellar resumes. Capitalize on the increasingly important social media branding bandwagon and offer to fix LinkedIn profiles as well.

Do you have impeccable organizational skills? What about cleaning skills? Can you quickly and efficiently carry out these tasks? Maybe it’s time to put those skills to good use by becoming an online personal assistant or task manager. Companies like TaskRabbit or Zirtual allow you to sign up for tasks you want to complete — including data research, virtual assistant or running errands — and begin building clientele.

7 Business Ideas for Entrepreneurial College Grads

It’s a tough job market out there for everyone, but especially recent college graduates. With little firsthand experience, it can be difficult to land that first job, which is of course necessary to gain experience in the first place. Finding a job in your field is certainly desirable, but for some the calling of launching their own business offers more promise than interview after fruitless interview. Instead of waiting around for their dream jobs to open up, many recent grads are choosing to start careers as entrepreneurs. Here are eight low-cost businesses you can start as a new college graduate.

Did you dream of working in the fashion world, but couldn’t find more than a few low-level opportunities in the field? If you have a great eye for design, you can strike out on your own and start an independent clothing company. Knowing how to sew or silk screen will help you get off the ground, but you’ll eventually need to find a good manufacturer to reach the next stage of growth. As with any business, high-quality products combined with great marketing skills are the keys to success.

Thanks to social media and the 24-hour news cycle, creative individuals like writers and graphic designers can use their talents to produce high-quality, shareable content for businesses and media outlets. A growing part-time economy of freelance and contract workers makes it easier than ever to market yourself as a professional freelance content creator. This can also be a great way to build up your skills should you choose to seek a full-time job later on.

In today’s tech-obsessed world, most people have smartphones, tablets and laptops that they use daily. With constant usage, there’s a good chance that at least one of those devices is going to crash or otherwise break at some point. If you’re a techie who can fix these issues with relative ease, you can offer to repair people’s electronics for cheaper than what the big retailers charge. Get started by marketing your services to students at your alma mater who don’t want to wait for the campus IT department to fix their hard drives.

If you spent your undergrad years tinkering with sound-mixing software and staffing the DJ booth at your college radio station, starting an event entertainment company could be the right path for you. With only your music collection and your laptop, you can get people out on the dance floor at weddings and birthday parties, or simply provide background music at more-casual events. DJ equipment is a big investment, but plenty of companies offer daily rentals of speakers, subwoofers and other accessories that you can use until you save up enough to buy your own.

Were you constantly hitting the gym after class? Turn your passion for fitness into a lucrative job by becoming a fitness instructor or personal trainer. You’ll have to put in a small amount of time and money to get certified, but organizations like the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America offer online certification programs that you can complete at your own pace. Once you’re a certified trainer, you can look for openings at local gyms or work one-on-one with clients at their homes. You can also find numerous programs for certification to teach fitness classes like yoga or Zumba.

Are you a wiz with software tools like Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop? Many small businesses are clamoring for an affordable way to gain access to professional branding, such as logos, banners and signs. If you’re about to leave college with a toolbox full of graphic design skills, consider launching a freelance design business that caters to other entrepreneurs. Once you establish a network of contacts and a reputation for quality designs, you can leverage past work into new jobs and possibly even set yourself up with a full time job right out of college.

Do you have a knack for knitting, jewelry making or creating other small crafts? If you can produce a lot of items quickly, you can open up an online storefront and sell your creations to the public. Startup costs are extremely low if you purchase your materials in bulk from a craft supplier, and if you can turn orders around quickly, you’ll make a profit in no time. You could even turn your store into a full-time gig.